June 16, 1838.
G. BEEBE - Sir: - I read some time last year, in one of your papers, a statement, showing the difference of belief between the Old and New School Baptists; and if I understand the Old School, they contend for the doctrine that God from all eternity, or before the universe, or man was created, did predestinate and foreordain a part of the human family of our progenitor Adam, as his own children, such as he determined should be saved, and that lie sent his Son Jesus Christ into the world to die, that they might be saved. Now I cannot see how this can be attributed to a God of justice but a God of justice he must be, if a God at all. Permit me therefore, to ask you a few questions, which I hope you will not hesitate to answer, in relation to this matter.
1st. If God be the creator of all men, why did he arrange it in eternity, before the beginning of time, in decrees, so as to save some, and not all?
2nd. If he has made such an arrangement, is he not unjust, and an impartial God?
3d. If he determined to save this number elected, why did he send his Son into the world to die for them, that they might be saved, when they were to be saved anyhow?
4th. Why did Peter say, he, God, is no respecter of sons; but in every nation, he that feareth him and work righteousness is accepted with him?
5th. Why does he command "all men, every where, to repent," when repentance will do them no good, if they not belong to the elect? And what good will it do them?
6th. Why is it said, He came to his own, and his own received him not; but as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, when they were sons already, and had been from all eternity; and what need had they for power to be given them to become the sons of God, if they were sons? (In the mind of God, as your brethren say)
7th. Why is it that all men are not created upon equal footing, as it respects salvation, which is to be attained through the medium of the gospel of the same God, which is to be believed and obeyed?
8th. Why was it that he directed his gospel to be preached to every creature, and he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned, if every creature to whom it was, and is preached, had, and have not, a chance to be saved?
If you will answer these questions, and show the justice of God, you will greatly astonish me, and perhaps thousands of others; and besides, you will greatly accommodate your humble servant and well wisher,
DE LANCEY EGBERT.
1st. That God is the creator of all men, is clearly revealed in the scriptures; nor is it any less certain from the same authority, that by an eternal arrangement in the divine counsel, he has decreed the salvation of some, but not of all mankind. Why God has revealed his sovereign grace to some, and hidden these things from others, is because, "So it seemed good in his sight." Luke x. 21.
2nd. He has made just such an arrangement; yet he is not unjust, but he is impartial.
3d. Because he had determined eternally to save his from their sins, he, in the fullness of time, sent his Son to redeem them from sin, death and hell; to all of which they stood exposed as the sons of an earthly Adam, in whom they had all sinned; they were to be saved only according to the purpose and grace given them in Christ Jesus before the world began. Tim. ii. 9, Eph. iv. 4. Which purpose and grace provided for them all that was necessary to cleanse from sin, to constitute them "holy and without blame before him in love."
4th. Peter made this declaration, because it was, and is the truth. Peter, as well as other Jews, had once thought God would have respect to their persons, as Jews, and personal relationship with Abraham, and personal righteousness, as doers of the law of Moses; but now being taught by the Holy Ghost, in his vision on the housetop of Simon the tanner, that God had cleansed all that the sheet (or covenant of grace) contained; and as a consequence (not cause) of their being cleansed, they would invariably fear God, and work righteousness, irrespective of the notions from which they were called by grace. All such are accepted (already) with him. When he as their legal representative arose justified, and by the blood of the everlasting covenant entered, and was received into the holy place made without hands, &c. Even then his reward was with him. They were crucified with him representatively, together with his dead body they arose from the dead; and as he rising from the dead became the first fruits of them that slept, he of course represented (according to this figure, borrowed from the ceremonial law) the entire harvest of his people; so that his being accepted, they were of course accepted with him; for they could be accepted at no other time or place, nor in any other way. And the only way Peter, or any of the children of God, can know who were, and are thus accepted with Christ, is by such evidences as Cornelius gave to Peter, viz: He feared God, (was not found presumptuously calling Jehovah to account to him for his eternal purpose, or divine decisions and everlasting decrees; "they that fear the Lord, tremble at his word ") and worked righteousness. God had given Peter abundant evidence that Cornelius was cleansed, and that he was of that chosen number in whom God worketh, both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
5th. God commandeth all men every where to repent; because all men every where have sinned; and it is proper and right that they should repent, or, in the sense of the apostle at Athens, that they should cease their worship of idols; and those in Kentucky should also renounce their idols, and cease to look for salvation through the works of their own hands.
6th. He came to his own; i. e., his kindred according to his birth, the Jews, his nation; and in a ceremonial relation, the Jews were the people of God, to the exclusion of the Gentiles; but the Jews as a nation rejected him, being disobedient, whereunto they also were appointed. 1 Peter ii. 7. That God gave his people power to become the sons of God, shows that men have no power of themselves to become such. As to the difficulty in the mind of Mr. Egbert, why they should need power to become sons, if they were sons from everlasting, as some of our brethren in Kentucky say; can Mr. E. comprehend the idea of all the human family being actually created in Adam, and existing in him as his sons before they were born. And notwithstanding their existence in him as such, God has given us power at the time appointed, by our natural birth to become the sons, by blood and birth, of Adam; for we have no more power to regenerate than we had to generate ourselves. As in this respect the earthly Adam represented till the human race, so his anti-type, the Lord from heaven, represented all the spiritual race; and because they are sons, God has sent forth the spirit of his Son into their hearts, crying Abba Father. This number is precisely as many as receive him; for as many as were ordained unto eternal life believed; and as many as he gives this power to, shall receive him, and no more. "All that the Father giveth me shall come unto me; and he that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out." "No man can come unto me, except my Father who hath sent me draw him, and I will raise him up at the last day."
7th. In one sense, all men are on equal footing, in regard to the matter of salvation; that is, all are, as men, totally depraved, lost, helpless, and justly condemned, and must be saved by sovereign grace, or sink down under the curse of the righteous law of God. But we presume our correspondent wishes us to tell him why God has not made the same provisions of grace for all, that lie has for some of the human family. We can only say, as we have virtually said before, So it did not seem good in his sight. We are not at liberty to question the will of God; but if Mr. E. will inform us why all the animal creation were not made rational intelligences, why beasts were not men, why men were not angels, why angels were not gods, perhaps he might let in such a flood of light on this subject, as to enable us to assign some other reason than the sovereign will of God, in answer to the seventh statement of his queries. Salvation is not to be attained through the preaching of the gospel; the gospel will bring home the glad tidings with great joy to the elect of God, in due time; not as something to be attained, but of eternal life secured, hid with Christ in God, for them who are kept by the power of God, &c.
8th. Christ commissioned his apostles to preach his gospel to every creature, for a witness to all nations. Matt. xxiv. 14. "As many as were ordained to eternal life believed." Hence, as many as believe, (with that faith which cometh from God, which is the fruit of the Spirit, not of themselves, but it is the gift of God) are ordained to eternal life, and shall be saved accordingly; and the standard by which the apostles were to determine whether their faith was genuine or spurious, was by their obedience; genuine faith will lead those on whom it is bestowed to connect themselves with the Old School Baptists; and this will require that they be baptized; not as a cause or condition, but as an effect resulting from the work of the Spirit in their hearts. For unto them it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake. Phil. i. 29. We know nothing of a chance salvation. The covenant of God with our spiritual David, and through him, with his spiritual house, is ordered in all things and sure. Hence we see a good and sufficient reason why the gospel should be preached; not as a proclamation of uncertainties, chances, contingencies, means, proffers, conditions, yeas, and nays, free will and human powers, but a declaration of the sure mercies of David, abounding with God's immutable wills and shalls, to the declarative glory of his great name, and the triumph of all his dear children.
Our querist requires of us, not only that we answer his questions, but that we show him the justice of God, and that too, in a manner which shall greatly astonish him, and perhaps thousands beside him and what then? Why, in that case we will greatly oblige him. Willing, as we certainly are, to accommodate our friend Egbert, we candidly confess that it is not our province to display the divine attributes of Deity to the understanding of those who have never been made experimentally acquainted with them, through the quickening operation of the Holy Ghost. No man knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
Yet on this subject we would say to our friend Egbert, and to the thousands he thinks may feel interested in this matter, that we have seen the day (and now we tremble when we ca1l it to mind) when we could also challenge the justice of God, when we set bounds for our Maker, and concluded that if he exceeded them, he must be unjust. And strange as it may seem, we knew no other, thought of no other, cared for no other standard of judgment than that of our own carnal reason, which is enmity against God. Yet we expected an. equitable and just decision from such a judge, even carnal reason. But, O Egbert! had not the Sovereign Lord displayed his naked arm in our salvation-had he not stopped us in our mad career-had he not prostrated this hellish opposition to his government, and given us a new heart, and a new spirit, we should have lived and died, and sunk down to hell, raging and blaspheming against him, as we then did; but forever blessed be his holy name, if we are not altogether deceived, he has taught us that all that he does is just and holy, simply because he does it; and we have been permitted with his ransomed children to sing, "It is even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight."
In conclusion, suffer us, to say, that unless you are brought by that sovereign, omnipotent grace of God, to be reconciled to his government, to see, understand, love, and rejoice in his absolute, sovereign decrees, in another and a dreadful world, you will find your last question more than answered. His justice will break thru on you, and on all who die in sin and unbelief, in a manner which will need no further explanation. From which awful state we pray God may save you, and the thousands of whom you speak, if in accordance with his all wise purpose and decree. Amen.
"Then shall he make his justice known,
And the whole world, before his throne.
With joy or terror shall confess,
The glory of his righteousness."
Alexandria, D. C.,
September 7, 1838.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
Pages 446 - 452